Monday, April 23, 2012

A Tale of Two 10K's

It's been over a month and half since my last "Running John" blog update. And quite a lot has happened since then! I wish I could honestly say that I've just been way to busy to post anything, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I'm getting old and absent minded and completely forgot that I have a blog.

Anyway, here's an interesting tale of two 10K's, both of which I happened to win! Full disclosure: they were both small, low-key local races without highly competitive fields. Nonetheless, a win is a win. And one of them I ran with the flu (which by the way, in case you were wondering, is probably a really bad idea).

Base Camp 10K, Mar 18th (Orlando, Florida)

I generally travel to Orlando at least two (and sometimes three) times a year for work conferences. I always bring my running shoes with me and sneak in a few workouts between presentations with other hardcore running nuts like my buddy Bill Pritchett from Dow Corning. This year, since I had to arrive on the weekend in order to present at a "jumpstart" session on Sunday afternoon, I thought I would check to see if there were any 10K or 1/2 marathon races going on that weekend.

As luck would have it, there was a nice little local 5K/10K race being held not too far away. The 10K course was basically two laps around on a paved bike path around a scenic little lake (Lake Baldwin).

I made sure to get to the starting line extra early so that I could familiarize myself with the course and get a little warm up in before the race. Imagine my surprise when, being one of the first people to arrive, I found the port-o-potties already overflowing and the street covered with empty plastic cups? Was I late? Had the race already been run? No, as it turns out, St. Patrick's day was the night before and the race start line was located directly next to an Irish Pub. LOL.

As I stood on the starting line sizing up the competition, I only saw one serious-looking competitor who seemed like he might be able to give me a run for my money. He was a young, local triathlete named Jaelin Funk from nearby Celebration, Florida. As soon as the gun went out, he charged out into the lead at sub 6:00 pace. I had to quickly decide whether to let him go, or whether to try and stay with him. Instictively I sprinted up to and tucked in behind his shoulder.

Thankfully he slowed down a bit after the first few hundred yards and we hit the first mile in a comfortable 6:03 pace, followed by 6:09 for the second mile. I noticed that Jaelin was starting to let off the gas (and was breathing considerably harder than me) so I decided to attack. I put in a slight surge and immediately got some separation. From that point on, I ran comfortably in the lead by myself with only the lead bicyle as company. After running 6:07 for the third mile, I shut things down a bit and jogged a 6:16 and a 6:18 for miles four and five, before finally picking it up a bit with a 6:07 last mile.

My winning time of 37:57 (6:07 average page) was a new PR and the first time I had ever run under 39 minutes! Needless to say, I was stoked!

Asha 10K, Mar 25th (Sunnyvale, California)

Just one week after my 10K win and PR in Florida, still high on victory, I decided to race another 10K. This was a race where I finished 2nd overall the prior year, so I figured that with my new found fitness level, I should have a reasonable shot to win, or at least to make the podium.

Unfortunately, the Burton household had just come down with the flu the day before the race. I toe'd the starting line with a bit of body ache and a slight fever thinking that while I wasn't going to be running a PR, I should at least be able to tough out 6 miles and hopefully fight for the win.

Asha is a pretty small low-key event where both the 5K and 10K runners start at the same time and run the first 1.55 miles together (before the 5K runners turn aound). So it can make it a bit confusing at the start of the race as you are never sure who is running which distance. And the start is always a bit of a madhouse as they have quite a few young kids running the 5K who invaribly go out hard at 6:00 pace for the first 200 meters (then abruptly slow to 10:00 pace for the rest of the race).

The first half mile (and last half mile) of the race was on a muddy single track.So to avoid the clutter and confusion I decided to go out hard and take the lead. That way, if anyone passed me, I could try to at least ask them if they were doing the 5K or the 10K.

After holding the lead through the muddly first half mile, I eased up a bit when we hit the paved road and let two runners pass me. One was a rather serious (and fast) gentleman who was thankfully only running the 5K. The other runner as a highschool kid wearing soccer shorts who looked like he was probably going to blow up and slow down by the end of the first mile.

Predictably, the soccer-runner abruptly slowed down and was never seen or heard from again. I jumped in behind the 5K guy and drafted as he did the work and pulled us to the 5K turnaround. After that I was on my own for the rest of the race, trying to keep the lead pace bicycle in sight. I ended up finishing with a winning time of 38:27, which was 30 seconds slower than my PR the previous weekend (though not bad considering that I would spend the next 3 hours laying on the couch at home wrapped up in a blanket with a fever).

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